2020 Hope Award presented to Kapila Silva, professor of architecture

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas senior class has honored Kapila Silva, professor of architecture, with the 2020 HOPE Award — to Honor an Outstanding Progressive Educator. 

The HOPE Award is given annually through the Board of Class Officers and is the only honor given to a faculty member by the senior class. Silva was announced as this year’s winner during the Oct. 31 football game against Iowa State. 

“I am pleasantly surprised, honored and humbled to receive this award,” Silva said. “I cherish this appreciation and recognition since it comes from the students and from the entire senior class of the university.” 

Silva teaches courses in architectural design, historical preservation and other topics, as well as leading study abroad in Asia. He received the Jack and Nancy Bradley Student Recognition Award from the School of Architecture & Design in 2010 before receiving this year’s HOPE Award, which celebrates progressive educators. 

“I think being ‘progressive’ in teaching means to help students discover and sharpen their innate abilities to be innovative in generating ideas and solving problems within their chosen disciplines,” Silva said. “It also means a way of mentoring that focuses on students’ overall academic, personal and professional success.” 

His research focuses on the social, cultural and psychological aspects of architecture, urbanism and historic preservation, particularly global heritage conservation. Silva also is a licensed architect practicing exclusively in Sri Lanka. 

“My research into the management of UNESCO World Heritage sites informs me that people value places not only because of the aesthetic and formal attributes of a place, but also because of its intangible attributes, as well as for how places weave sociocultural, economic and political dimensions into the built fabric in the evocation of unique place experiences,” Silva said. “This understanding in turn informs my teaching — I encourage my students to strive for this multidimensionality in the creation of designed environments.” 

Before coming to KU in 2007, Silva was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he earned several awards, including those for teaching. Silva earned his doctorate from that university in 2004 after earning master's and bachelor's degrees from the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka.